Manager of Summmerley Estate urges Arun District Council to issue warnings about sewage on beach

The chairman of a private estate in Felpham has urged Arun District Council to protect visitors and residents following reports of sewage washing up on Bognor beaches earlier this month.

Monday, 23rd August 2021, 1:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 10:39 am

Andrew Fells sent a letter to Arun District Council earlier this month, criticising the council for its failure to either close Felpham beaches or put up warnings at appropriate times.

“This would appear to be a gross dereliction of the duty of care owed by Arun District Council to people using our beaches,” he said

Mr Fells called for the council to erect flags or ‘other appropriate warnings’ in order to alert residents and guests to the danger of entering ‘polluted waters’.

Bognor Regis beach

Responding to Mr Fells’ concerns, a spokesperson for Arun District Council pointed at that there are six designated bathing waters across the district where signage provided by the Environment Agency is displayed.

In Felpham, the spokesperson said, the sign is at the opposite end of Blakes Road, close to the water sampling point.

Mr Fells’ complaint follows a number of reports of raw sewage washing up on Bognor beaches last month.

Readers and residents reported seeing ‘black sludge’ on beaches from Elmer to Felpham in late July after torrential rain led to Southern Water authorising storm releases along the coast.

Concerns persisted despite the water company’s insistence that the releases were ‘99 per cent rainwater’.

“(The sewage releases aren’t) Arun District Council’s responsibility but, in our view they really should have put up some sort of warning to residents and visitors that it’s dangerous to go in the water,” Mr Fells said.

“(The council will) no doubt say that people will be aware of the issues because of the news and Southern Water updates, but they can’t rely on people reading all this stuff on their own, particularly if they’re visiting from other parts of the country.

“It’s not an expensive issue. Just like you can put flags up on the beach when there’s a shark in the water, you can do the same with sewage.”

Mr Fells claimed to speak on behalf of the 350 residents of The Summerley Estate and said many of his ideas echoed those of the residents he works alongside: “We’re a fairly strong body of people.

“We had a board meeting last week and thought this was a serious enough issue to contact the council and hopefully get some sort of reaction,” he said.

The Arun District Council spokesperson added: “A report is being prepared for the environment and neighbourhood services committee meeting on September 23 outlining arrangements for managing bathing water quality in Arun district, including the Environment Agency’s role in regulating storm releases by the water companies.”

The concerns about sewage come after Southern Water was fined £90 million for pouring sewage into the North Kent and Hampshire coasts.